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Posts tagged ‘Advent’

Advent as Sabbath

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Now that we are about to begin the third week of Advent it has dawned on me that Advent is in many ways a four-week Sabbath experience.  Or it could be.

Advent is a time of waiting and the word itself means coming.  So it is, for Christians, a time of waiting for the coming of Jesus.  It is a time of preparation where we review our readiness for the arrival of the one who will change the world’s view of everything; and, if we let him, change us. 


It is not necessarily a quiet waiting but rather an active waiting as Parker Palmer calls it and, yes, that active waiting can be quiet.  It can also, however, be a time of activity that requires us to open ourselves up to what it means to be a follower of Jesus.  It may require some extra time with the Bible. It may require some extra time with a spiritual advisor or director.  It may require extra time at church or in prayer or journaling. 

Unfortunately, the kind of activity we do during Advent has more to do with preparing our homes and our trees with the festive trimmings of Christmas. christmas preparation blog An exhausting endeavor for many and one that leaves little time for active reflection and soul-searching. 

(Maybe that is why we get ourselves so crazy busy each Advent season.  It is easier to do the things that exhaust us than it is to look at the things that make us uncomfortable and convict us as  followers of Jesus.  BTW this is also why I think there is so much in conflict in churches.  It detracts us from the real work of being disciples which is far harder than stirring up dissension and we can avoid the whole messy discipleship thing..but I digress)

As with a true Sabbath observance Advent is a time of celebration and remembrance.  We celebrate the joy of the one who we know is coming and we remember just how significant that coming was/is/will be for us. 

I know we are drawing close to the final countdown to Christmas, and I know how busy these final days can be.  However, what if we made an extra effort to prioritize the heart preparation for Christmas during these last two weeks and let ourselves be part of an Advent Sabbath?  What would that look like in your life?  How would this add to your Christmas preparation rather than detract from it?  What would have to change to make it happen?  What might change if you did? 

Christmas Angel

…and all were amazed at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”  Luke 2.18-19




How Silently, How Silently

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

red bellsThe Christmas carols are playing everywhere you go these days except in many churches.  Church-goers complain mightily that the hymns during this time of the year are not Christmas carols and not ones they enjoy singing.  The reason for this, as many a pastor will tell you, is that this is Advent.  We haven’t reached Christmas and its season of celebration yet.  Advent is a time of waiting and quietly reflecting on the light that this world so desperately needs to see.  However, waiting, being quiet and reflecting on what we really need does not suit the bottom line of stores who are eager to begin racking up Christmas sales in October. 

So every store we walk into is blaring Joy to the World or Silent Night while there seems to be anything but around us.  If Santa Claus brings enough toys to put sales in the black and make all the little boys and girls happy, then we will be joyful and finally take a long winter’s rest. 

Or will we?

We know in our heart of hearts that joy doesn’t come in a jolly old elf with a round little belly.  Joy comes in the muck and mud of a homeless, unwed couple tucked away in a dirty barn or cave awaiting the birth of their baby who will come amid blood, sweat and tears.  No wonder we had to pretty it up and add a dash of red, reindeer and romance combined with holiday parties, presents and procrastination.  christmas preparation blog

And exhaustion.

Advent is the antidote to that exhaustion if we are wise enough to embrace it. The carol, “O, Little Town of Bethlehem” reminds us:

          “How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given!

          So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven.”

It is in the silence that the gift is given and if we aren’t silent, then how will we know when the gift has arrived.  Advent and Sabbath are both times of stopping to listen for the gift that God wants to impart to us – time to reflect on what is really important – a life in God’s care. 

Advent is almost over and the Christmas celebration will officially begin but there are still 52 Sabbath opportunities every year to stop, rest, reflect and listen for the blessing of heaven that God sends to us. 

May the season of light and love fill your hearts and minds with the power of God’s peace and joy.   iStock_000027543299XSmall

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all who make Sabbath a priority in their lives. 

“But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” Habakkuk 2.20



Sabbath Moments and Sky Gazing

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I recently bought a card that says “Lying on your back watching the clouds is never a waste of time, especially when I am with you.”  It is a sweet sentiment between human beings.  And even without another person to watch the clouds with, it is soooo true.   cloudsA little cloud watching is never, ever a waste of time.

But what if that card came from God?  What if God sent you that card?   Better yet, let’s assume God did send you that card.  What would you do?  Would you run out and look at the clouds knowing that God was with you?  Would you spend some down time with God just absorbing the beauty of the skies? 

Or would you say, “Not now, God, I’ve got a ton of things to do and I’ll never be ready for Christmas if I stop and waste, oops I mean, and watch the clouds float by.”  Unfortunately, I can hear myself saying this. Down time is idle time in our frenetic lives, isn’t it?  

And yet, this card sums up Sabbath beautifully.  Stopping your normal routine to gaze upon the heavens with God is a weekly command no matter what the demands are upon your day. 

During this season of Advent and waiting for the light to break through the darkness maybe we should take this sky gazing one step further.   Why not gaze at the stars, too?  Just as the Magi did so many centuries ago, we could watch the stars, look at the vastness of the heavens and marvel that in this whole universe we mattered enough to God to give us Emmanuel…God with us.

So stop.  Look up at the heavens day or night and be knocked off your feet by the power, beauty of magnitude of God’s love for us. 

“Moon and stars mounted in their settings.  Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, ‘Why do you bother with us?  Why take a second look anyway?'”

                                                                                             Psalm 8.3-4 The Message

Happy Sabbath gazing,


Prayerful Sabbath Moments

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

My last blog focused on the light.  Today my heart yearns for the light to shine in the darkness that came over our country yesterday.   Never has the evil of the darkness come into focus as clearly as it did when those innocent lights were extinguished in that small Connecticut town. 

The original Advent time and Incarnation are long past but even though the light has come into the world, the darkness is still trying to overcome it. 

We must not let it.   

We stand on this side of the incarnation and the resurrection.  We have a choice…we can either stay in the deathly darkness or we can choose to enter into the life-giving light. 

Choose the light.

            Choose life.

                         Choose to be connected.

                                         Choose to be connected to God and to each other.

                                                                           Choose to shine.


Taking regular Sabbath breaks keeps us in the light, keeps us connected and keeps us centered in life.    

Pray for the children, pray for the families, pray for the community, pray for peace, pray for the end of violence in all of its forms and pray for God’s guidance and encouragement to move forward so we can make a difference with the light of God.

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted”  Isaiah 61.1

Prayerfully yours,


Light Your Sabbath Moments

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Advent and Hanukkah are upon us.  One, Advent, is about waiting for the light and the other, Hanukkah, is called the Festival of Lights.  Light is so precious.

For those of us who live in areas where the sun is not a frequent visitor, we know how important light is to our spirits and moods.   Seasonal Affective Disorder is called SAD for a very good reason.

Just preparing for the light can lift our spirits and many people light candles in Advent as a way to usher in the greater light of Jesus.    And the story of Hanukkah with the precious oil for the lights lasting eight days reminds us that light can bring surprises and blessings as we bask its warmth.  Light is something to celebrate.

The Sabbath was meant to be a light at the end of a week.  For six days the Jews worked and toiled through long days from dawn to dusk.  The light was there as they worked but it was not something they could afford to bask in for there was too much to be done.  But on the evening of the sixth day the candles were lit and basking in God’s gifts began.  The light of God was now the focus of the next 24 hours.  No work was to be done in order that the focus be uninterrupted.  In that light they celebrated God, each other and the fruit of the land.

For Christians, who moved the Sabbath to Sunday, the light of God is also the focus.  Many church services begin with the lighting of the candles ushering God’s light into the sanctuary.  And the services end with the taking of the light out into the world.

For your Sabbath moments this week focus on the light.   Light candles, spend time in the sunshine, or sit before a blazing fire and focus on the light as the light of God.  What does this light mean to you?  How has God enlightened your path, your life?  How are you bringing the light of God into the world?

Rest and celebrate in the power of the light.

And God said, “Let there be light and there was light. 

God saw that the light was good and he separated the light from the darkness.”

Genesis 1.3-4

Shine on,


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